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Wednesday 07 July 2010
What's happening at Kingsmeadow - number 5

Our first pre-season friendly, against Charlton Athletic, is on Saturday so much of this WHAK focuses on Terry’s preparations for the game and the season in general.

Pre-season training started on Tuesday 29 June so the new members of the squad have had time to begin the settling in process. The daily routine is to arrive at 9.00 am for a 9.30 am start. On the first day the players were put through various fitness tests. Fitness coach Jason Moriarty said ‘all the players are in good shape after the summer break but the fitness levels of some of them are just astonishing given they’ve been on a long break. This is a great start.’

The daily routine so far has now settled down, with training sessions at Woodies (the training pitches, not the pub) where the club has invested money into improving the quality of the pitches. At present the mornings concentrate on getting everyone up to the highest possible fitness levels until about 12.30 pm, when they return to the main pavilion for lunch. Terry and Jason are keen to monitor the players’ diets and make sure that they have the right food intake after such a heavy session.

After lunch the players move onto weights, with exercises designed by Jason specifically for each player. Some days Paul Priddy will attend and work with the goalkeepers and on others Marcus Gayle will work with the strikers. Stuart Cash doesn’t attend every day but he is nonetheless a regular at the training ground, as is Simon Bassey.

So far, Terry is delighted with how the new full time training regime is working. “When we went full time at Aldershot I went overboard with enthusiasm, over-trained the players and ended up injuring a lot of them! You try to learn from experience so having Mike Rayner here to work with the players four days a week, plus Jason’s insights into fitness and diet, make it a lot less likely that I’ll repeat that mistake.”

Mike Rayner is also enjoying being able to spend more time with the players, personally supervising Jon Main’s recovery from his posterior ligament injury, while being able to work with other players on preventative exercises that weren’t so easy to introduce when we were part time.

Mike is particularly excited by the benefits he expects from the heart monitors. These were put into use for the first time this week. They allow Mike to gauge just how much stress each player is under during training and to adjust their routines accordingly. ‘The problem is that there is so much information that you can drown in it, so we are taking things a step at a time. But yesterday we sent the players home wearing the monitors so that we can get a better measure of their recovery times. I’d like to say a big thank you to the volunteers who raised the money to buy the monitors and the fans who sponsored the Gateshead bike ride and other events. The monitors really will make a difference.”

There are a number of triallists taking part in training and Terry expects to blood some of them in the pre-season friendlies. ‘Yu can only learn so much from training sessions and I’ve seen time and again that players who look world beaters in training don’t deliver in games, so we do need to involve them.” Terry will talk more about Saturday’s game against Charlton later in the week on this site, and also at Thursday night’s ‘Meet the Manager’ session.

Back at Kingsmeadow, the pitch markings are in place and the posts will be reinstated tomorrow, Thursday, having been taken down during the pitch renovations. There is one problem area, which is where the players enter the pitch. Over the years this has become compacted and in trying to level it out, the groundsmen have had problems getting it to seed properly. Ninety percent of the affected area is off the pitch, and we may well leave it covered on the day of the game, to protect it from harm while the area recovers.

Back at the stadium, there are some minor building works going on at the moment, as a consequence of the decision to offer hospitality in a sectioned off part of the back bar.

We plan to offer fans, both home and away, a three course meal based around a carvery for £20 per head, which compares very favourably with every other club in the Conference. However, although we will offer individual bookings, the main intention is to offer a package of a three course meal plus a seat for £38, including a programme. A meal plus a seat in the Directors’ Box will be £55, including a programme and half time refreshments. The creation of a hospitality area will also allow us to offer an enhanced match sponsorship package.

To make this possible we will be installing removable partitioning roughly halfway down the back bar; this will be removed so that the bar is fully available again at half time and at the end of the game.

As a result of doing this, there are some changes we need to make. These include:

• Installing two new TVs above the bar to allow fans to watch televised games as usual
• Moving the Dons Trust and WISA tables outside. We are having covered stalls made, much like the ones that were used for the Merton Abbey Mills evening last season. This will free up space inside the bar and we believe that it will also make the DT and WISA teams more accessible by fans at large
• We need to make the Tempest End kitchen fully available to the caterers so the burger bar can’t operate from there at the same time. To achieve this, we have demolished the stewards’ hut (which most fans won’t be aware of, but which was adjacent to the serving area) and in its place we will put a burger trailer. This is the most cost effective (if perhaps not the prettiest) way of providing a continuing burger service while creating the space to provide a new facility for fans
• As a knock on effect, the stewards will have a new, improved area to congregate, created in one of the offices adjacent to the kitchen. Fans will probably only notice this through the creation of a single step allowing access to their room, opposite the first aid cabin
• There will be less space available to regular users of the back bar so we are making provision to expand the area by adding a tented area outside the double white doors. This will have seating, as we are converting the grassy area outside into hard standing, and heating in winter

While we recognise that this will be a change that some users of the back bar will not like, the takings in the back bar on matchdays are only 36% of the total bar takings and this indicates that we are not making best use of our facilities. The projected profits from the carvery, plus the associated bar sales, will make an additional contribution to our profits and it is them that fund the team. We also hope that the additional space we create will minimise any loss in bar sales caused by reducing the area available for our usual back bar users.

We aim to launch the new arrangements at the Arsenal game on Saturday 7 August.

We are also looking into the cost of improving the furniture in the main bar, which we recognise is well past its natural working life, but there are other capital expenditure priorities and we will need to assess them all before making a decision to proceed.

Finally, for those of you who fancy a stroll along memory lane, the reserves kick off their pre-season at the site of our first ever competitive game, Sandhurst Town, on Friday evening, kick off .